Izakaya 居酒屋



Izakaya (居酒屋) is a traditional Japanese pub or tavern offering a casual and lively dining experience. Originating from the words “I: 居” (to stay) and “Sakaya: 酒屋” (sake shop), Izakayas were initially small shops that sold sake and offered a few dishes to accompany the drinks. The history of Izakaya in Japan dates back several centuries, evolving from humble sake shops into the lively and popular establishments they are today. Izakaya is known for its relaxed atmosphere, where people gather to enjoy good food and drinks and socialize with friends and colleagues.

How did Izakaya start?

The roots of Izakaya can be traced back to the Edo period (1603-1868) when sake shops began offering small dishes to accompany the sale of sake. These shops provided customers with a place to sit, drink, and enjoy simple snacks while socializing. Initially, the focus was primarily on serving sake, but the variety and quality of food offerings expanded over time.

Western influence in the Meiji period.

After the Edo period, Japan underwent rapid modernization and urbanization during the Meiji period (1868-1912). During this period, Japan was exposed to a lot of Western cultures. As a result, Izakayas transformed from traditional sake shops into more formal establishments that served a wider range of alcoholic beverages, including beer and shochu. Also, the concept of sitting at a counter and ordering dishes individually gained popularity.

Economic change after World War II

After World War II, Japan experienced economic growth, and the Izakaya culture thrived. Many Izakayas opened near train stations and catered to the working-class population looking for affordable and casual places to relax and enjoy food and drinks. These Izakayas became an integral part of post-war Japanese social life.

What is it like today? 

Today, Izakayas have become even more diverse and dynamic.


Izakayas feature an extensive menu with a diverse selection of small, flavorful dishes designed for sharing. The menu often includes grilled skewers (yakitori), deep-fried snacks (Karaage, french fries), sashimi, tempura, grilled fish, steamed dishes, and many other options.


Izakayas are known for their wide range of alcoholic beverages, including sake, shochu (a distilled spirit), beer, and various types of cocktails. Some Izakayas even offer an extensive selection of regional and craft beers and a variety of sake options to complement the food.


Unlike formal dining establishments, Izakayas have a relaxed and casual ambiance. They often feature an open kitchen or a counter where patrons can watch the chefs in action. The seating arrangements typically include communal tables, bar counters, and private dining rooms for larger groups.
Whether you’re looking to enjoy a casual meal, have a few drinks with friends, or explore a variety of flavorful Japanese dishes, visiting an Izakaya provides a vibrant and friendly dining experience that captures the essence of Japanese pub culture. One of the largest Izakaya chains, Watami (和民), has many locations throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States. So you might be able to find it in your country to experience Izakaya.